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Respecting the Dignity of Every Human Being: Reflections on John Lewis

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/08/22/respecting-dignity-every-human-being-reflections-john-lewis

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John Lewis was my rep for seven years. Very energetic, very cordial, downright “nice.”
But ultimately a politician.

And like just about like all politicians, he wasn’t above stretching the truth to play politics.

When he said this about Bernie in 2016, Lewis tainted his record:
“I never saw him. I never met him…I was chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee for three years, from 1963 to 1966. I was involved with the sit-ins, the Freedom Rides, the March on Washington, the march from Selma to Montgomery and directed (the) voter education project for six years. But I met Hillary Clinton. I met President (Bill) Clinton.”

There is a photo of John Lewis and Bernie Sanders at a march together in 1965, striding forth no more than 15 feet apart. And Bernie was, in fact, a local organizer of SNCC, and he was arrested during a fair housing protest at the University of Chicago. Bernie also attended the 1963 March on Washington. But hey, they probably never met. On the other hand, Lewis damn well knew that Bernie was an activist with a proven commitment when he made his comment above, obviously to undermine Bernie and promote Hillary. Consider that truth stretched.

Meanwhile, Lewis has said in a book that he didn’t meet Bill Clinton until 1991. And famously, Hillary was a Goldwater Girl in the early 60s – supporting the Barry Goldwater who voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Lewis stretched the truth about meeting them to the breaking point.

Oh, I forgot to mention that stretching the truth is basically lying. Political expedience being what it is, and after getting a buttload of pushback from Bernie’s supporters back in 2016, Lewis walked back his comment on Bernie. But that damage had been done. Not to Bernie, but to Lewis.

Respecting the dignity of every human being includes telling the truth.


Not making excuses, I’ve read his quote you wrote before, but perhaps at his age he was confused, and thought he was talking about Biden.

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Wow. I thought I knew a lot about the Lewis/Sanders story but I had not heard about the picture of them both together during the time Lewis claimed to not know of him in the movement. Thanks for the info.

I heard the story of Lewis publicly telling Julian Bond he should get a drug test recently on the Rumble podcast. Frankly I’d much rather have a representative who is s high when he walks into Congress (I doubt very much anyone running for this office would do this) than I would a liar.


The photo has been disputed, though not by Lewis.
Everything else has been verified, and Lewis’s backpedaling on the topic is in the public record.

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